Pre-WWDC Bus Ride, WWDC'10, Bike Ride, and Trip to Berkeley

Last Sunday we hitched a ride with the AUC guys down to Silicon Valley. It was the same as last year’s tour: Fry’s (the small one) where I bought an SSD and some Altoids; the Computer History Museum, which was smaller and less impressive than last year but they still have the mechanical difference engine which is great; and Apple HQ at 1 Infinite Loop, where I bought a T-shirt, a shirt for work, and a microphone/button for my phone. Finally we returned to San Francisco to check in at Moscone West for the conference.

The first party, Sunday night, not including the Aus & NZ Reception where we chatted up Santa Claus Dr Kim Silverman (one of Australia’s finest exports to Apple) was sfMacIndie which was well attended and had great food. I talked to some German dudes for most of the night, and then was challenged to find a Russian in the room. I watched demonstrations of an iPad case that is highly impact resistant (iPhone screens were perfectly undamaged after hitting the case with a hammer) and a demo of the Cloud Made map technology.

Monday through Friday: this is basically all non-disclosure territory, with the exception of some parties. Watch the Stevenote if you want to know things Apple. But I will say this: there’s a lot of cool new things for developers. And the juice was fantastic as usual.

We were in the keynote queue from 4AM, and were a little beyond where we were last year in terms of position: wedged neatly into the corner of the building. If getting up at 3:30 AM wasn’t enough, I only got to sleep about 1:30 AM so it’s fair to say I was feeling top of the world! Matt had the unusual idea of buying collapsible chairs for sitting on during the queue, and this made things a little more comfortable. I played some Torchlight. We socialised with the surrounding nerds. We acquired free t-shirts. And then around about quarter to 6, I had this brilliant idea. I loaded the immortal Rick Astley up in MPlayer on my 17” MacBook Pro, hit fullscreen, full volume, hit play, and then started walking up the queue… Yes, I rickroll’d the WWDC queue. You can thank me in the comments.

I went straight to bed Monday night…well, as much as I could. We dropped by a bookstore before heading home and then there was a plumbing problem in the neighbouring room at the hotel so Matt and I had to shift downstairs, delaying sleep further.

Tuesday through Friday are a bit blurry and were quite uneventful during the day. The Apple Design Awards and Stump the Experts on Tuesday night were both great. Congratulations to Aussie developers Firemint for winning two (!) awards. I scored a shirt (again, though this one is XL) and boxed copies of the After Dark screensaver pack. The bash on Thursday night was awesome; the band was OK Go who had donned the conference jacket and made some witty remarks about Apple and the conference. But that’s not the best part. The band’s front man, Damian, hopped off the stage for a number and played…less than a metre from my face.

So the conference wound down and Friday evening rolled around. We hiked to Coit (yes, we were sure to catch a snap of Coit Liquors, ha ha) and caught the cable car back, and then joined the AUC people for the traditional dinner at Buca di Beppo. Tim drank an inordinate amount of root beer, and since Jess’s birthday was recent enough, we got the staff to sing their version of a happy birthday. Finally we cruised over to the Courtyard Marriott where a pile of people were staying, and hung out having a little after-party with the likes of Nick Circosta and Mark Bate, which was enjoyable.

Saturday was a little bit of a “free day” in some ways. After a rather late start at Mel’s diner for breakfast, we headed our separate ways. Tim chose to hang out in the hotel room and read a book. A couple of guys headed out with Bernie, another Australian, for a car ride around the place. As for Matt, Alex, Jess, Andrew, Dave and myself, we all went on a bit of a bike ride.

The ride started near to Pier 39, which incidentally is San Francisco’s quintessential tourist trap. We rode along towards the Golden Gate bridge and Fort Point, had a quick poke around the fort and then rode over the bridge. On the other side of the bridge we headed for Sausalito, and quickly ate a greatly delayed lunch (though it was delicious), followed by a ferry ride back to the other side.

That evening, a few of us went to see a film: Prince of Persia. While hardly impressive in terms of movies, it certainly tops the list of films based on computer games.

Lastly, on Sunday we got up late again (this being such a pleasant change from the early starts during the week let me tell you!) and joined Mark Bate again for coffee in Union Square. This was followed by a trip to Berkeley.

First order of business was to grab some bubble tea, and check out the comic store. Impressive range of American comics! Comparable to small manga stores in Japan. Secondly, we went to the hat shop.

Best. Shop. Ever.

I left with two hats: one stylish brown bowler-ish hat, and one tricorne pirate-style hat. Both of these were unanimously suggested as being awesome for me, and I think I agree. They both fit well. The others bought some hats too: Matt left with a black fedora-style hat, Nic bought seven hats (because he goes through them quickly) and Tim scored a very savvy grey top hat! To complete the ensemble the others bought parade canes and even some fake moustaches. Fun!

Thirdly, we waltzed over to the Indian (as in subcontinent) restaurant for some curry. The menu options for many were quickly settled down to “whatever the hottest thing on the menu is,” but despite this, nobody had big problems eating their meal.

Finally, we cruised around the university campus for a little bit. It seemed familiar…not because UC Berkeley is famous in computing circles, but to me it was because of the smell in the air. Turns out the place is full of eucalyptus trees! No wonder—that gum-tree smell is highly reminiscent of home and of UTas.

After BARTing back to San Fran, we made some further plans for the evening: another movie, and then dinner. Movie was The A-Team, which we all agreed must have been worth the nine dollars entry, even though it was excessively silly and full of explosions. It’s got some great moments, like the bit where they fly a tank.

Dinner was had at the Cheesecake Factory. Yes, they have a huge range of cheesecakes. No, we didn’t just have cheesecake for dinner. Yes, I had a steak too. Yes, the steak was pre-shredded and I would have rather had it in one piece, but didn’t particularly mind enough to not eat the thing. Yes, the Cheesecake Factory has a great view of Union Square.

And now I must post or this will never get done. I’ll do the last two days soon. It’s been delayed a little because the internet here at the hotel was down yesterday, and we have been a bit busy today. So maybe I’ll write it on the plane home…on my brand new iPad! Fork yeah!

See you next time!

View the photo album